P-Patch progress: 4 designs shown at 34th/Barton’s 2nd meeting

Of the four potential designs shown at last night’s second community design meeting for the new 34th/Barton P-Patch, that one won an informal vote, double the support of the second-most popular. Another informal poll indicated support for preserving the big birch tree that’s on the sprawling site (a hot topic of discussion at the first meeting, as noted in our report from last month). After the jump – the three other designs, plus toplines from last night’s meeting:

The four designs that were presented were what resulted from Barker Landscape Architects reviewing the eight possibilities roughed out by tables of participants at the first meeting, which had a slightly higher attendance than last night (both were at Southwest Community Center). Here are the other three design alternatives:

The vote results were 16 for A, 4 for B, 6 for C, and 8 for D. The design/construction budget for the site is only about $35,000; architect John Barker listed the estimated costs of the designs as $24,000 for A, $30,000 for B, $44,000 for C, and $38,000 for D.

(WSB photo taken last month)
As for the big birch tree – each design was sketched with it and without it. Pros and cons were listed; one “con,” of course, is shade from the tree, though it was noted that while the tree does create shade on the site, that would only affect plots for about an hour or so per day in the summer. Other “cons” included the tree losing its leaves annually, more space for garden plots if the root ball doesn’t have to be taken into consideration, plus, keeping it means it has to be maintained (pruned, etc. Removing it also would cost money, perhaps $500.

For the “pros” – as mentioned at meeting #1, an arborist called it the best example of this type of tree that she had seen in the city; it also affects the site’s micro-climate, and provides habitat for birds, squirrels, and insects, as well as being a “kid magnet” – a natural play element.

The tree is believed to be about a third of the way through its life cycle, which means, of course, it will likely get bigger. So, stay or go? An informal poll was taken by table; three wanted to keep the tree, while the fourth was “divided” on the subject. There was also discussion about whether the decision on the tree’s fate should be opened to community members beyond those at the meeting; the Westwood Neighborhood Association (which does not currently have regular meetings) was mentioned as one possible group to consult.

Another topic of discussion: How much of a “common area” the site should have, and whether the final decision on that would affect the possibility of getting matching funds to increase the budget for site development.

Next steps: The third meeting is set for 1:30 pm April 2nd, also at Southwest Community Center. That’s when the proposed final design will be presented; if the project keeps proceeding on its current schedule, it could be ready for gardening this fall. For comments or questions in the meantime, there’s contact info on the official city webpage for the new P-Patch.

31 Replies to "P-Patch progress: 4 designs shown at 34th/Barton's 2nd meeting"

  • MargL March 2, 2011 (12:18 pm)

    It’s a little odd that the design alternatives include the limo parking. Aren’t they currently parked on part of the land that would be included in the p-patch? Is parking for limos going to be grandfathered into the design? Or will the City charge parking fees?

  • onceachef March 2, 2011 (12:27 pm)

    We have our raised beds (our house is near this site) on the south side of our house. It looks like the tree is also on the south-west side of the new p-patch, which means that it’s going to throw quite a bit of shade on certain plots. This is not necessarily a bad thing (sometimes good) but keep it in mind if you’re getting a plot there. I think planting other trees should be considered to offer that same “climate” control in different areas. It can get very hot in the summer months and the sun is high in the south sky…sometimes, a break (via use of the tree(s) works well for crops. Tomatoes and peppers are exceptions, but a lot of greens (lettuces) will wilt if they get too hot….common knowledge for gardeners but others getting a plot may not know this. I would also suggest not getting too close to the sidewalks so dogs and such can’t urinate on anyone’s plot (I know you may think that this wouldn’t happen but it will, I guarantee). I would think that it should be anything but a “playground”…kids should be welcome but should actually garden (or learn about it)…probably a great skill for later in life. Lastly, is there any plans for “security lighting”? Maybe I’m paranoid, but after living in WS for ten years this seems like the perfect place for vandalism….lights might help deter that. All in all, I think it’s a great use of the property…Tony’s can buy direct! :)

  • valvashon March 2, 2011 (1:25 pm)

    I see my concerns about not having enough limousine parking have been addressed. Seriously, WTF? I hope that Barker Landscape Architects are having some fun with the design at this point.

  • desertdweller March 2, 2011 (4:24 pm)

    Oh, I love that the limos are part of the plan. AWESOME! / sarcasm

  • Amber March 2, 2011 (4:33 pm)

    @onceachef – The Delrige p-patch is not lit at night, and it does not seem to be especially attractive to vandals. Ditto every other p-patch I’ve seen in the city.

  • Jean March 2, 2011 (4:48 pm)

    I vote for D. The more plots available, the better.

  • DP March 2, 2011 (5:56 pm)

    I vote for D, too. Same reason as Jean.
    Although I have my own garden space at home, and thus don’t need to rent at a P-Patch, I have spent a lot of time studying P-Patch usage in this area, and what I’ve discovered is that P-Patches, great as they are, are still somewhat underappreciated and underutilized by the public.
    People will often rent a P-Patch bed in a burst of spring-induced enthusiasm, but then they don’t put in the work required to maintain it throughout the season. I don’t know if they just lose interest or what, but many of the plots go unused during the summer and are choked with weeds. Maybe the Barton P-Patch will buck the trend, but from what I’ve seen, area P-Patches are only about 50-75% utilized at best.
    Considering that, I would rather start off with plots being smaller and being offered to more people, rather than having fewer, larger plots that might end up being abandoned anyway.
    Wanna see a P-Patch that gets optimal use? Check out the Danny Woo Hilltop Garden in the northeast corner of the ID. The (mostly older Asian) gardeners who plant there actually feed their families with what they grow. Some of them even turn a nice little profit on the herbs and specialty vegetables they wholesale to the markets in Chinatown.
    These people are serious about P-Patching.

  • waman March 2, 2011 (6:04 pm)

    seems pretty pricey for some raised beds & dirt?

  • d March 2, 2011 (6:40 pm)

    I don’t get the recommendation about the birch tree. Birch trees are notorious aphid magnets. The aphids leave a sticky dew and that dew attracts ants.

    Aside from that, aphids don’t “play” nice with plants, especially edibles! Replace the tree with a fruiting type of tree that can still provide a wee bit of shade, won’t grow as tall and requires less onerous maintenance and actually produces something for humans to consume, rather than feeding aphids.

    The prudent approach would be to get another type of tree, or the plot renters surrounding the tree will be unhappy campers when their produce is all chewed up and thick with aphids and their larvae.

  • Terri Bullert March 2, 2011 (11:20 pm)

    Aphids don’t live on birches, they attack unhealthy birches. Especially river birches and this isn’t a river birch and this tree isn’t unhealthy (The arborist report said it was an excellent specimen).
    Besides, ladybugs (Great Aphid Eaters) overwinter under bark and in leaf litter. Under bark means it has to be a mature enough tree to have peeled and cracked fissure zones- which takes YEARS for a tree to mature to a size and state that it can provide many zones for habitat.
    Take away the tree you take away an important source for “natural” aphid eaters on the gardening zone. Then what?
    Aphids can produce up to 40 generations (Here, because of our growing season I believe it is 7) that can live up to 20 days, that means with everything else at to the p-patch to do one would have to spray the aphids off for 1/3 of the growing season?
    No thanks.
    When I had a patch at Bradner Gardens I got aphids- freaking out I filled up my soapy water from home ready to squirt it on my infected mustard tops and save my produce at any cost. When I got there aphid midges were eating my aphids. Never had I seen that before so I toughed it out- brought the soap home and took a leap of faith. Soon ladybugs arrived and I never had to use my soap. Bradner gardens has a complex habitat and gardening there was an excellent experience- some patches are in shade but it’s worth it. I never had to use chemicals- even organic ones- I had great yields and an excellent experience.
    This is a chemical free zone. Organic gardeners rely on bugs, birds and bats- without beneficial bugs and animals yields are lower, frustrations higher and the learning curve for gardening success much longer.
    Clearing landscapes of complex zones is why so many farmers rely on chemicals.
    It’s not just ladybugs, the tree is most likely home to:
    Parasitic wasp nests
    tree bugs
    Barton patch is surrounded on three sides with asphalt and little resources for natural defense.
    It would be different if this p-patch was up against a greenbelt and the beneficial bugs, birds and bats were already there but this site is unique. This last tree is a complex habitat on this site and it will take over a decade to replace (grow another tree to this state of maturity) the layers of organic gardening support it provides.
    I believe his tree holds one of the the keys to success on this garden site-success without using chemicals.

  • Carol D. March 3, 2011 (12:52 am)

    Good comment about the complex habitat the tree brings. There is big difference between organic gardening and understanding the science behind organic gardening.
    It’s not easy getting the general public up to speed on that.
    Good Luck!

  • westwood mom March 3, 2011 (1:40 am)

    I am also radically opposed to cutting down any healthy tree before it’s time, it is waste of money and resources. Knowing how many beer bottles and garbage I clean from my parking strips on a less busy nearby side street, I would not want to be one with a plot so close to the sidewalks. I would suggest B for that reason.

  • April Hichens March 3, 2011 (6:28 am)

    Seems Terri has made the most informed, logical and supportable argument for leaving this lovely component of the neighborhood intact. It would be a great investment in maintaining the beauty as well as the soundness of the ecology of the P-patch and the well-traveled corner of this neighborhood. Hoping this birch stays put.

  • Teresa March 3, 2011 (7:51 am)

    I agree with the comments on organic gardening and a diverse environment benefiting all. My own vegetable garden is bordered by a large doug fir on one side and a large birch on the other – both in neighbor’s yards. I’ve learned to use and appreciate the shade and climate control (wind) that both offer my garden. If we wish to be stewards of the land, we need to learn to work with what is offered to us, not strip it down and create what we think would be best.

    That corner property is so bleak and bare – so happy that a P-Patch is going in, but PLEASE leave the tree!

  • Marc March 3, 2011 (7:59 am)

    Terri could not be more right about some of her premises, and wrong about her conclusions.
    Birches do get aphids, and while this is an impressive specimen in 2011, it won’t be for long…or if t is it will be at the expense of the gardeners and taking advantage it the space they provide or crops.
    The key to successful organic gardening is skilled organic gardeners. BTW ladybugs are a purchasable product, spray them with sugar water (or is that insect abuse?) so they can only walk for a few days and they will eat aphids off a garden before they are free to fly away.
    Organic gardening is difficult, why would you want to compel those trying to an ever uphill battle with this monster birch? It’s shallow roots will take. While to find the garden beds, but they will. The insult we plan to the root bed, trimming at the drip line down two feet with barrier, will stress the tree and its unfettered growth wil be, well, fettered.
    Ironically the burg was the center of 3 of 4 of the designs provided. If it were not there there are plenty of other plants that can quickly provide the 3D aspect that some claim only this specific tree can do (bamboo in containers?). And if renege up with a beautiful garden, the space will be well served and the spirit of he hitch will live on beyond it’s conceivable lifespan.

  • sz March 3, 2011 (9:20 am)

    Please leave the tree! It would be sad to see such a beautiful, young tree cut down.

  • Marc March 3, 2011 (9:27 am)

    It is worth noting our central, designed dilemma
    landscape vs. cropscape (they can co-exist).

    Wishing that your crops will taste better than store bought takes work, planning, diligence, and a gift of good weather (and less pilfering than others’ locally have experienced).

    Having a nice spot to enjoy passively is at the expense of production potential but it can be accomplished. There are plenty of ways to overcome the loss of the tree and its shade even if there is emotional attachment to it.

    There is no way to overcome loss of the sun, insolation, and adding a degree or three to soil temperatures.

    IMO remove the tree, stump, roots, and start with a clean slate for a new (multi) purpose idyllic spot, and make sure future results are a vast improvement on the current situation.

  • Vera @ Village Green Nursery March 3, 2011 (9:31 am)

    I think the tree should be left…
    The P-patch will catch all the east and south sun needed to grow just about anything you want.
    Why not think about it as a shady respite when out in the P-patch? Put a bench under it or a picnic table so the community of folks can rest, eat and discuss together.
    Plant companion plants under it to attract beneficial bugs?
    That tree seems like an anchor to the entire P-patch.

    I see it as a valuable asset to the plot- change does not always need to mean

    ‘Take out everything that was here before the project’…
    it can mean
    ‘add to what already exists to enhance the overall feel’

    I vote for smaller plots…keep the tree.

  • Terri Bullert March 3, 2011 (10:09 am)

    Buying ladybugs isn’t possible for many.
    Most gardeners seek out free resources to manage their plots because they don’t have a very large income.
    It expensive to pay for ladybugs and let them fly away to someone elses habitat when at the garden you can create and sustain your own population.
    What I understand about ladybugs is that the best way to keep them around is with hiding crevices and leaf litter.

  • Hillary March 3, 2011 (10:15 am)

    I am so looking forward to the p-patch going in, and I strongly advocate keeping the tree. Westwood is really lacking in mature trees, and this birch seems to have found a great place to grow and mature. Each of the designs incorporates it beautifully.

  • Marc March 3, 2011 (11:24 am)

    One last comment…
    I had brought this up before and everyone demurred, “Who decides how we decide?”

    Does the steering commuter have more juice than public meetings? How does one get on the steering committee beyond attending? Can I invite twenty friends to attend & vote my way?
    Do public meeting trump the steering committee, and can I co-op the kids table to vote?

    Not that I am suggesting any direction, but we should have one direction. It will be harder to decide the fate of the tree, which drives design, which dictates construcion…
    if we have to decide how we decide and decide
    who gets to help make the decision…!

    So my question is, who decides this?

  • Joyce March 3, 2011 (2:15 pm)

    As a longtime p-patch gardener I advocate for saving the birch tree as a major feature in the landscape of the proposed Barton P-Patch. Birch trees give a dappled shade and on a hot summer day, it will be a respite for the gardeners and visitors to rest and have a picnic.

    Take advantage of this large tree: it gives leaves for making compost right there on your site. Our p-patch collects leaves in the Fall to stockpile for the next season of making compost. Where is the toolshed? Where is the composting station? These have to be somewhere on the site; why not locate them in the shade cast by the tree?

    Visit other existing p-patches in the city; they do not only consist of garden plots. P-Patches are more than just maximizing gardening space. They are about creating a healthy habitat for beneficial insects and birds. They are about creating a welcoming space that is shared by a community of gardeners and neighbors.

    Save the birch tree, plant some native shrubs under it for the birds. Plant more trees on the planting strip, maybe a variety of edible fruit.

  • Kris March 3, 2011 (2:56 pm)

    I’m in favor of retaining the tree. We are losing too many in our city & neighborhoods. Then wonder why there aren’t better ways to remove bugs and insects from our gardens and yards.

  • Cheryl Phelps March 3, 2011 (3:08 pm)

    I think lighting is critical, especially in the fall/winter times. I do personally know of incidents at other “patches” in the city that have had bad experiences because of no lighting.

  • white center resident March 3, 2011 (4:47 pm)

    The steering committee- if I may address that…
    seems to be the birthing point of an idea…
    Once the idea gets to a certain point where the plan can come into a place of forward movement… the public gets to be more involved and have their voices be heard and
    ‘hey- how about a real democratic vote’?

    Why not actually make that kind of change?
    Let the voice of the people speak for itself- we all know how that feels when the outcome doesn’t meet with the public opinion…
    hmmm…just a thought.
    Seems fair.

  • dameDonna March 3, 2011 (5:21 pm)

    I wanted to point out something that I don’t see mentioned that was important in the meeting…. all of the above plans are the basic DESIGN (or floor plan, if you will) of the P-Patch. None are finalized. Which means that the plot sizes and amount of plots can change, along with elevations of raised beds and other aspects of the final design. So, even though Plan A was the overwhelming majority, it doesn’t mean that the plots will be exactly what is shown. There was talk of possibly adding some planter beds to the parking strip (shown in plans C & D) and dividing up the large plots to offer a better mix of small and large to accommodate more gardeners.

    Also, whether or not you’re pro-tree or anti-tree, the common area (the area that will not house individual plots) will be pretty much the same percentage of the entire P-Patch.

    Personally, I’m very much pro-tree – and the informal vote at the meetings showed the same. This is my neighborhood (I live on 34th, about 8-10 homes down from the P-Patch) and that has been our “park” for years. We walk and visit Mr. Tree, play on/around it, enjoy it’s lacy shade, and eat roasted corn from Tony’s under it in the summer. I love that it obscures out the view of the backside of 7-11 and it’s home to squirrels and birds. I can’t imagine it gone. The gardeners will come and go and I would hate to see a large, HEALTHY tree cut down because a few of the gardeners that are planting in the P-Patch don’t want it.

    It gets HOT on our street. Much hotter than other areas in West Seattle and we need the light shade it provides and, most likely, the gardeners will appreciate it. We want to continue to have a place to walk to and hang out. I’m so excited that this spot isn’t being turned into more condos like most of the city. Hopefully this P-Patch will be taken care of and we can sit under the tree and watch the gardens grow.

  • dameDonna March 3, 2011 (5:25 pm)

    Sorry, my browser froze and it looks like I accidently posted twice. OOPS!

  • Wally March 5, 2011 (9:18 pm)

    I really don’t care which plot design but keep the beautiful birch tree! It will be a great centerpiece for the garden. And the limos can go…

  • JAK March 11, 2011 (9:31 am)

    I don’t understand why it is so easy for people to be so aloof about killing a tree if it isn’t suiting their needs. This is a living thing, it is wrong to just cut it down, work with it, if you can’t fix it feature it! Trim it up and make it look pretty. The shad it is providing is filtered….

  • JD March 18, 2011 (11:19 am)

    As a local gardening based biz, ( very local to this project! ) I’d like to add my vote to keep the tree. Possibly consider a bit of a redesign to put either a seating area, large path or the gardening shed(?) shown in the design in the area that would be most shaded by the tree thereby opening up another more sunny area for garden plots. The only drawback I see as a contractor, to the design chosen, is the curved beds, which will be both more
    complicated and costly to build than using standard sized ( i.e. 4×4, 4×8, 4×12 ) beds. The more variation in bed size and shape, the more time and cost to build, etc. As there’s no doubt a limited budget for the garden, it might be a consideration.
    I also wonder whether additional lighting is really needed there. It’s a very open area, with a very well lit business ( 7-11/Gas ) next to it, as well as a fair amount of street lighting around it, so existing light levels seem like they’d be plenty for safety/prevention of damage.

  • Randee March 18, 2011 (12:46 pm)

    Please rest assured that the tree is staying. And it is being honored. How was it decided? Through the community process, by soliciting opinions of neighbors, gardeners and arborists. And acknowledging the popular vote. Come to the April 2 design meeting to find out more. The meeting is from 1:30-3:30 at the SW Community Center.

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